Prescription Medicines You Can Get Addicted To

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

The Hawaiʻian islands once had a major rat problem. To combat it, sugar cane plantation farmers imported mongooses to kill the rats. Unfortunately it did not work and now Hawaiʻi also has a mongoose problem. Similarly, a person who starts taking a prescription medication for a legitimate health concern may become addicted.


Understanding the Danger

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), “Prescription drugs are the third most commonly abused category of drugs, behind alcohol and marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.”

Nearly twenty percent of the US population has abused prescription drugs. Some of the common reasons include:

  • Misunderstanding them to be safer than what’s found on the street
  • For relaxation or appetite suppression
  • Falsely thinking it’s a legal way to drugs


Types of Medication to Be Careful With

NCADD provides a list of frequently abused medication including street name variants, intoxicating effects, and health consequences here. The most commonly abused abused categories include pain relievers, tranquilizers and sedatives, and stimulants.

Pain relievers include such opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin. These drugs may cause drowsiness and euphoria. They are also highly addictive, can slow breathing to dangerous levels, can be overdosed, and are dangerous when combined with alcohol.


Tranquilizers and sedatives are depressants. A few common examples are Xanax and Valium. They are often used to treat common issues such as anxiety or sleep problems. They can also cause drowsiness and a relaxed feeling. Negative consequences of abuse include dangerous slowing of one’s breath and heartbeat and major withdrawals such as seizures.


A few examples of stimulants include Ritalin and Adderall. They are designed to increase alertness and can also provide a sense of euphoria. However, they are addictive, can overheat the body of a person who abuses them, and can result in a seizure.

Think you or a loved one might have a problem with prescription medication? Call us at (855) 425-4846 right away.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.